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Matthew Broderick Lights Up the Season with ‘Deck the Halls’

Matthew Broderick skips the annual Christmas card newsletter and tells Hollywood.com all about his new holiday comedy Deck the Halls, and what the holidays are like at home with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Hollywood.com: You’ve made just about every kind of comedy there is. What was the appeal of doing Deck the Halls for you?
Matthew Broderick:
It was fun. I had a lot of physical stuff, which is really enjoyable for me, and it wasn’t like a part I wanted to work too hard on, which was nice. It’s kind of for children—well, it’s for anybody, really, but I don’t think you want to overwork it. So it was nice to do a job right, just try to sort of relax and jump in. It reminded me of Chevy Chase movies, definitely.

HW: You shot the scenes of a wintery little New England town under a giant fake-snow-filled tented dome in Vancouver during the hottest summer there in ten years. Was it hard to summon up the Christmas spirit under the circumstances?
Yeah, it wasn’t very Christmas-y, but that’s the magic thing movies can do. What feels hot and sticky and uncomfortable can look like a little town in Massachusetts. And it’s fun to watch how to do it—to see them pump all that snow out and light those houses and build that huge tent that covered two houses so that we could shoot in the daytime. It would have been a month and a half of night, and the months in Vancouver are also very short in the summer, which has to do with the latitude.

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HW: What kind of Christmas movie is this?
I think it has a very nice feeling to it. It has a nice sentiment at the end—a very simple message that it’s not about lights and things so much, that there is a feeling to the Christmas that we like. There’s a goodwill. I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s a Christmas spirit, I guess, that hopefully comes at the end. After all this working, how do you get this feeling? My character’s very controlled method of getting there, or Danny’s over-the-top lighting everything? In the end it’s more of an internal thing about the families coming together. There’s a nice, nice feeling to it, and then there’s also a lot of laughs. I think laughter is very nice always and particularly at Christmas because it can be a stressful time. There’s a lot of stress any time you’re around your whole family.

HW: Do you and Sarah spend a lot of time with your families during the holidays? You both come from pretty big clans.
Yeah, definitely. Sometimes we do like Thanksgiving at one and Christmas at the other. That’s an eternal problem with married people.

HW: So do you end up with just huge family gatherings?
No, they’re very average. I should make a disclosure: I’m half Jewish, though. I have half a holiday. No, but I’ve always celebrated Christmas. For some people in America I guess, mostly it’s wonderful if it’s a religious holiday but it’s also more: our winter family holiday…We definitely have a tradition of getting together with the whole family, eating enormous amounts of food and — you know, we have a tree and—we’ve only lived in our house about four years, so it’s all a little bit new, and having a four-year-old—our traditions will be about things that he likes.

HW: And do you celebrate the Hanukkah side of your heritage as well?
No. We try to get the candles out—we don’t know how to do it, really [laughs].

HW: The characters in the film go waaaaay over the top when it comes to holiday decorating. Just how much do you do at home—not as much on the outside, living in New York, we imagine…
MB: Thank god, not too much. You can do inside your house. You can decorate your tree, and you can hang lights on your window. Or when I was a kid, on your fire escape [laughs].

HW: Do you have a favorite holiday memory?
You know, I’ve been thinking about that today and I can’t really pinpoint one. You know, I have various memories of—you know—snow. A red bike I got that I remember very clearly . I remember a train set. Watching my father set it up the night before and him not knowing that I saw him, so that was like my first major acting role — having to open that the next day and go, “Oh my god, a train!”

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—Reporting by Fred Topel

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